Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation for intraoperative cardiac support in children with congenital heart disease

Eva Maria Delmo Walter, Vladimir Alexi-Meskishvili, Michael Huebler, Antonino Loforte, Brigitte Stiller, Yuguo Weng, Wolfgang Boettcher, Felix Berger, Roland Hetzer
Interactive Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery 2010, 10 (5): 753-8

OBJECTIVES: Extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) is commonly used in children to allow recovery from ischemic injury or cardiac surgery, to support the circulation in case of end-stage cardiomyopathy, as bridge-to-bridge therapy and as bridge to transplantation as well. It has achieved success in providing cardiac support for these kind of patients with expected mortality due to severe myocardial dysfunction. In this modern era, ECMO support should be considered an important option for children with cardiopulmonary failure refractory to medical therapy or resuscitation. We report our experience in pediatric patients supported by ECMO for intraoperative cardiac failure between November 1991 and December 2006.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Sixty-six patients with a mean age of 5.2+/-4 years (range: 1 day-17 years) and mean weight of 14.3+/-11 kg (range: 2.8-69 kg) had intraoperative ECMO support for failure to wean off cardiopulmonary bypass (n=46, 69.7%), low cardiac output syndrome (n=8, 12.1%), isolated right ventricular failure (n=6, 9.1%), isolated left ventricular failure (n=3, 4.5%), malignant arrhythmia (n=1, 1.5%) and pulmonary hypertension (n=2, 3.1%). Mean duration of ECMO support was 5.1+/-3 days. Overall 30 (45.4%) patients were successfully weaned off ECMO and survived to decannulation. Overall 6 (9.1%) patients were successfully bridged to heart transplantation while on ECMO support. Thirty patients died (54.4%) (16 while on ECMO and 14 after decannulation) because of multi-factorial complications, i.e. cerebral hemorrhage, pulmonary failure, consumption coagulopathy and therapy-resistant myocardial insufficiency, leding to an overall hospital mortality rate of 45.4%. Mean survival time after decannulation was 28+/-16 h. Overall survival rate on ECMO as bridge to recovery and transplantation has been 54.5% with successful hospital discharge of patients.

CONCLUSIONS: Our experience shows that ECMO support can be offered intraoperatively to any children after palliative or corrective surgery for congenital heart disease with potentially reversible pulmonary, cardiac or cardiopulmonary failure. In the majority of patients who did not survive late after weaning from ECMO support, significant myocardial dysfunction persisted or pulmonary hypertensive events. Nevertheless, an acceptable proportion of patients who were successfully weaned from ECMO ultimately survived to leave the hospital.

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